‘Change the System’ features projects by designers who want to change the world, either step by step or in one big gesture. With work by more than 50 designers and artists, the exhibition gives a vision of contemporary design’s potency for change: can we rid the oceans of plastic, create a world without plastic, use graphic design to clarify and sharpen social debate?
‘Change the System’ is spread across eight galleries and brings together the work of some fifty designers and artists from the Netherlands and abroad. It showcases their solutions for global problems such as pollution, conflicts, scarcity of raw materials and political tensions. Alongside existing projects, in the exhibition some of the designers will develop new works or carry out experiments with the active participation of the public. Some designers will create temporary production sites in the museum, where they will make things together with the public. Other experiments are focused more on creating a momentum or a community.
With ‘Change the System’ Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen dedicates itself to the resilience of creativity. The museum wants to inspire its visitors to look at social themes through the eyes of creative thinkers. The exhibition shows a current overview of groundbreaking design as well. From young and renowned designers that relate to the theme in an innovative and personal way and dare to work outside the boundaries of their own disciplines.
Curator Annemartine van Kesteren: “I believe that creativity is a powerful means to address the big questions of the moment. Contemporary design can inspire, initiate change or set a transfiguration of ideas in motion. Change the System gives a current overview of groundbreaking work of designers that relate to social current topics such as scarcity, conflict and unanimity. Change the System does not only exhibit highlights from contemporary design. In five Labs designers develop new work or conduct experiments where they actively involve the visitors.”
For his graduation project at Design Academy Eindhoven in 2013, Hakkens built his own plastic recycling machine. He then made the plans available online, and invited others to construct their own machines and share the results via his website.
Over four years later, his Precious Plastic machines (pictured top) have been adopted by more than 200 designers worldwide. For Change the System, he is showing some of creations this community has come up with.
Manon van Hoeckel
Van Hoeckel’s portfolio includes a travelling “embassy of the undocumented”, which aims to facilitate open discussion around immigration in the Netherlands.
For this exhibition, she has installed a free laundrette in the entrance – creating a place where visitors can discuss the show’s contents, and encouraging in people who would not usually visit a museum.
“People come here and bring their bag of dirty laundry, and for the 45 minutes that the machine is running, they go into the exhibition to see the collection,” said Van Kesteren. “What happens there in the waiting time is that people engage with each other.”
Dirk Vander Kooij
Like Hakkens, Dutch designer Dirk Vander Kooij works with recycled plastic. He developed his own robot arm to transform this waste material into chairs, vases and other useful items.
For his latest projects, including Not Only Hollow Chair, he has refined the technology to allow him to print hollow objects – allowing the material to go even further than before.
Klarenbeek experiments with different sustainable materials for use in 3D printing.
In the past he worked with mushroom mycellium, which he claimed “could be used to build houses”. He has now teamed up with Maartje Dros to explore the potential of algae. Over the course of this exhibition, the pair have been growing algae in the museum’s pond to produce bioplastic.
The duo’s ultimate goal is to establish a local network of biopolymer 3D printers, called the 3D Bakery.
One of the most unusual projects in the exhibition is The Incredible Shrinking Man, a speculative proposal to shrink the the human population to an average height of 50 centimetres, as a way to reduce the volume of natural resources they consume.
Hendriks has been working on the vision for the past four years. He set up his own design studio in the exhibition, where he continued his research the viability of the idea.
Meindertsma first presented her Fibre Market project in the Fear and Love exhibition at London’s Design Museum. It saw her transform 1,000 discarded woollen jumpers into piles of rainbow-hued piles of fibres.
For Change the System, she has taken the idea one step further. Working with recycled Donegal tweed, she has created a new textile and used it upholster a chair – to challenge the preconception that recycled materials can’t be luxurious.
“It’s beautiful how she turned waste into something classical,” said Van Kesteren.
During the 2017 election in the Netherlands, designer and researcher Ruben Pater created a website, aiming to reveal how political parties make use of deceptive propaganda.
According to Pater, the Stemmingmakerij project had not ties to any political project – it was merely intended to make politics more transparent, and help voters to make better informed decisions.